Fri | Aug 7, 2020

ERC calls for peace as country awaits official results of elections

Published:Tuesday | July 7, 2020 | 12:23 AM

GEORGETOWN (CMC):

The Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) on Monday called for “peace and responsible behaviour” as the people of Guyana await the final declaration of the disputed March 2 regional and general elections.

The Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is due to hand down a ruling tomorrow on whether or not it has jurisdiction to hear an appeal filed by two senior members of the main opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) in relation to a Court of Appeal ruling regarding the elections.

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo and Irfaan Ali, the PPP/C presidential candidate, filed the appeal before the CCJ for several reliefs, including an interpretation of the words ‘more votes are cast’ in Article 177(2)(b) of the constitution of Guyana.

The Court of Appeal, in its decision late last month, ordered that the words are to be interpreted as meaning ‘more valid votes are cast’. The court also ordered the decision be stayed for three days. The applicants, who were added as respondents before the Court of Appeal, claim that the decision was wrong for many reasons, including that the Court of Appeal did not have the jurisdiction to hear and determine the Notice of Motion.

In a statement, the ERC said that it is supporting other organisations calling for “peace and responsible behaviour by all as the nation awaits the final declaration” of the elections.

“There is no doubt that the historically long period it has taken for the declaration to be made has exacerbated tensions and discontent while, unfortunately, fostering ethnic strife, especially on social media platforms.

“There is also no doubt that public utterances, including the building of expectations by some officials and their political subjects have, and continue to, contribute to the heightening of tensions and a further widening of unwanted division among our people.”

The ERC said that this is not only extremely worrying due to the potential danger it poses, “as our electoral history so regrettably reminds, but woefully unhelpful to the daunting and crucial task of forging harmony so vital at this juncture.

“The commission therefore reiterates the need for all leaders and stakeholder groups to act in a much-needed responsible manner, and to ensure those whom they influence do likewise. At the same time, it commends those who have, and continue to, act responsibly.”

The ERC said that it will officially write to the leaders of all political parties, urging them and their constituents to work towards de-escalating tensions and adherence to law and order.